Living in Fear vs. Abiding in Love

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It can be easy to make check lists when we try to follow Christ. All too easily our journey with Him can turn into trying to be the best people we can be without Him. Keeping track of our actions and being critical of every one of them. Never being sure if you’re “okay” or a total failure.

It can be easy to live in fear.

Oh, beloved of God, do not live in fear! Those mess-ups will be graciously redeemed when we run to the love of God, and those uncertainties can be cleared up when we run to His wisdom. Do not let the spirit of fear take over you instead of God’s Spirit which is of power, love, and self-control.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

Notice that fear and self-control are contrasted as opposites. Keeping ourselves from sin should not be a death-giving exercise (fear), but a life-giving one (self-control). The kind of discipline that God gives does not lead to fear but to freedom. Anything else is from the devil, who invents the most right-sounding lies to keep us in bondage. The devil might even convince you, like he did to me, that “denying yourself” means “not being yourself,” while in fact it really means denying your flesh which leads to you being yourself free in Christ, abiding in His love, and walking by His Spirit.

It all comes down to our need for Christ to set us free. Christ desired for us to live in freedom—that’s why He died for us!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Put on the armor of God, and do not let the devil convince you that God is keeping a record of your wrongs. When you trust in Jesus, you are covered by His Love. And Love does not keep a record of wrongs! (1 Cor. 13:5)

In John 15:9, Jesus instructs us to abide in His love: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (ESV)

What does it mean to abide in the love of Christ? What does that look like?

It means to live in freedom, without fear, perfected by His love, and not trying to perfect ourselves by our own strivings. It looks like soaking in His presence after a long day’s work or before the beginning of one, drinking deeply of the Spring of Living Water, and feasting upon the Bread of Life. It looks like walking into the world resting in the acceptance of your Father, and gladly pouring that love into other people, so affected by Your Savior that others can’t help but be affected by the love expressed through you.

“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” – Galatians 5:4-6

Through the Spirit we wait for God to grow plants of righteousness and goodness in our lives. It is only God who makes anything grow! (1 Cor. 3:7) We wait eagerly through the Spirit which hungers for righteousness, trusting that we will be filled. (Matthew 5:6) When we trust in Jesus to be our righteousness rather than strive to be righteous on our own, our faith WILL express itself through love. If we truly have faith in Christ, we will long to express that faith to others. Our desire for expression is satisfied when we love people the way we have experienced the abundant love of God.

The Lord’s love is a place to take refuge in, not to shy away from in fear you don’t deserve it. Yes, Beloved, you don’t deserve an ounce of it—but that’s what’s so precious about it! That’s the kind of God we serve. He is more than capable of being our Refuge and our place of safety. He is more than willing to hold us and speak tenderly to us in our moments of weakness. He loves you.

Do not be afraid! That’s a command given many times in the Bible, not a suggestion. Bring your fears and anxieties to Him and He will accept you as His child in His open arms. I believe the phrase “Do not be afraid!” can imply the same thing as “Do not walk away from your Father’s embrace.” Only with Him can you be free of fear!

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Life isn’t about trying to be the best you can be, as good as that may sound. The best a person could ever do on their own would even then only be a façade, while deep inside brokenness and hurt abound in their souls.

Life isn’t about striving. It’s about being healed by Christ in the inmost parts of your being. It’s about Him setting you free from the bondages of fear, shame, and guilt. It’s about abiding in His love, and letting that love perfect you into His image.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” – Psalm 36:7

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The More I Fear You

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“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7 

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” – Psalm 103:17-18

The more I fear You, the more I find You

The more I fear You, the more I want what You want

The more I fear You, the more Your Word fills my heart

The more I fear You, the more sensitive I am to Your Spirit

The more I fear You, the more I find joy in You.

 

The more I fear You, the  more anxiety disappears

The more I fear You, the more the things of earth don’t matter

The more I fear You, the more my heart expands with love for others

The more I fear You, the less control I try to have

The more I fear You, the more I hear You.

 

The more I fear You, the more accepted I feel

The more I fear You, the more dependent I am on You

The more I fear You, the more I have the courage to step out in faith

The more I fear You, the more I can experience freedom

The more I fear You, the quieter my heart is in Your presence.

 

The more I fear You, the more I don’t have to fear anything else

The more I fear You, the more beautiful You are to me

The more I fear You, the more Your grace becomes miraculous to me

The more I fear You, the more I want to spend time with You

The more I fear You, the more You’re ALL that matters to me.

 

The more I fear You, the more sin becomes repulsive to me

The more I fear You, the more grateful I am

The more I fear You, the more satisfied in You I am.

The more I fear You, the more I hunger for You

The more I fear You, the more Your life fills me.

 

The more I fear You, the more I rest in You

The more I fear You, the more confident I am in You

The more I fear You, the more I want You

The more I fear You, the more I need You

The more I fear You, the more I love You.

 

Let Him love you

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Today God just wants to love you. He sees you where you’re at right now, and His heart breaks. He doesn’t scorn you for failing to love Him; He empathizes with you in your weakness. (Hebrews 4:15)

Slow down and be gracious with yourself. Don’t be afraid to do that! You might think you would forget to follow God if you just stopped everything and let Him love you. The truth is, you would be falling into the sin of perfectionism if you didn’t stop everything and let Him love you. The truth is, we can have no part with God if we don’t let Jesus bend down and wash our feet.

“’No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’” – John 13:8-9

Let us receive all that God offers us through Jesus Christ, just as Peter did! God created us to need a whole lot of grace and tender loving care, and I know I need it far more than I like to admit it. But it’s not something we need to be ashamed of!

Come to your honest spot, letting God expose your weakness. He will accept you with welcoming arms. He wants you to let Him love on you! He longs for you to receive Him, to let Him in and sit and eat with you.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” – Revelation 3:20

When your broken honesty leads to tears, He is with you, comforting you. Don’t think that God is too far above you to show you pity! He is closer than you dare believe, more tender-hearted toward you than you could ever imagine.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17

God does NOT despise a broken and contrite heart! He lavishes unmerited favor on you—that’s what grace is: UNMERITED FAVOR! He favors you, even though you don’t deserve it. His perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

Take a deep breath. The most humble thing to do is to let God love you. God weeps for us when we don’t see the Spring of Living water that He offers to us abundantly, and when we turn to broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jer. 2:13) Look what He offers you, Beloved of God!

Abundant, full life in Him–true love, peace, and joy! Jesus came so we could have new life springing within our hearts! (John 10:10)

If only we would listen to Him, what joy we would have! Hear the heart of God in this Psalm, longing for His people to simply listen to Him, so they may receive the goodness of His loving provision!

“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” – Psalm 81:13-16

Give Him permission to love you today. Let Him satisfy you with His love. He truly has compassion for you, and He understands your weakness. He knows that the only cure to our wandering hearts is His tenderness and mercy.

I thank God for revealing His love to me personally today! We will truly never know another love like His! Have a blessed week! ❤

He is Alive!

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Trust and receive.
Please.
Don’t let the doubts of whether you’re trusting the right way
Be the wall between you and His grace.
There’s no right way to trust–
It’s ok.
It’s ok if it’s as small as a mustard seed.
It’s ok if you keep messing up.
It’s not about what you can do
It’s about what He can do!
God gives us endless chances
If you’re willing to confess and to trust
And to truly receive.

Because receiving Jesus’ righteousness is what you get when you trust.
The cross kills your sin,
But because He is risen
Your life is not a whiff of dust,
But it’s one of victory.
Not just victory over things, but victory in things;
Victory in doing things
Not out of deathly, mundane obligation,
But out of the poured-out love that lives in you.
The joy to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly,
Because He first loved us.

Because He first loved us,
Trust and receive.
Please.
Don’t make up excuses like a teenager who finally realizes that life is pretty morbid without God.
Trust and receive
Like a child who finally realizes that life is pretty glorious with God.
Soon victory will be yours
The darkness within you will be overthrown.

So, please:
Trust and receive.
It’s never too late to start again.
I would say it a million times if I could:
It’s never too late to start again!

Trust and receive.
Don’t do it just once in a life
Or once a year or once a week.
Do it every day, every moment
You need His love and grace,
Or His truth to discern between right and wrong.
Do it every day, every moment
A crisis hits, a worry nags at you, or shame creeps up.
Whenever darkness threatens to triumph and to tell you lies—to tell you He died,
Trust and receive,
Because the truth is He is alive.

“’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

A Message to Those Who Have Been Hurt by the Church

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Dear friends,
I’m sorry for the Christians who didn’t love you,
For the Christians who followed a Jesus who
Didn’t eat with sinners
Or shunned the ones who didn’t have it all together.

I’m sorry for the Christians
Who created an atmosphere of fear
Where you had to wear a mask or try to be someone you weren’t,
When deep inside,
You were filled with hurt.

I’m sorry for the Christians
Who didn’t know what grace was,
Who thought they had to convince you to join their side
With hate when the truth is only found in love.

I’m so sorry you were hurt
By those Christians–
those imperfect persons
Who failed to show you who God really is.

Dear friends,
I hope you find who Jesus really is;
A person who lavishes love on you
No matter what you did–
A love so genuine and beautiful that it doesn’t make sense.

I hope you discover that a life with Him
Is like living in an atmosphere of grace,
Where you don’t have to pretend to be anything but who you really are;
And when you show Him your hurt,
He can heal your scars.

I hope you rejoice
In the grace He pours out on you,
And find that the truth only comes
When you turn from the hate and walk in His love.

Dear friend,
I hope you find safety in God’s embrace,
And find the courage to embrace
Every imperfect person,
Including myself–
And that, together, we can learn to show the world
Who God really is.

 

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-11

 

 

God Meets Us in the Midst of Anxiety

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Sometimes I feel like I have to reach a certain spiritual mental state in order to experience God. I’m sure there’s people out there who can relate. The joy of the Lord should be our strength, the peace of God should guard our hearts, and the freedom of Christ should set us free.

Right?

But too often my anxiety holds me back from all this. From true, confident hope. From Him.

How can we dance in His presence when anxiety holds us in bondage? How can we follow God when we don’t feel Him?

It’s true that following God brings about joy, peace, and freedom, but these don’t come to us when we search for them. They don’t come to us when we try to make ourselves dance because we ought to.

They only come when we seek Jesus. When we contemplate Him in all His magnificence. When we open our hearts and let Him in to dine with us. When we truly, honestly enjoy Him, because He is worthy of our joy.

In the midst of anxiety, I often can’t fathom how to enjoy Jesus. I’m too worried about myself worrying too much.

And sometimes that’s okay. God doesn’t need us to enjoy Him. God doesn’t need us to be psychologically healthy. He is capable of meeting us right where we are at to simply be with us. To comfort us. To whisper gently to us reminders of His unfailing love.

He is capable of healing our minds.

When all you can think about is that one problem that keeps running over in your head, God whispers, “I’m here.”

He doesn’t shout it, He doesn’t force us out of our vicious cycle of anxiety, He doesn’t condemn us for our misery.

He holds us. He gives grace to our minds. He guides us to lay everything before Him and just rest. God is greater than any problem we have, so we can rest in Him with the assurance that He has everything under control.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7

Notice how the verse before the “anxiety” verse tells us to humble ourselves. It takes humility to release control of whatever problem we have and trust that God is great enough to hold it in His hands and take care of it for us. And at the same time, during all of this He is gentle enough to hold us in His hands and take care of us.

Once we release control and find rest in our Lord, something beautiful happens.
Peace. Freedom. Joy.

You soon find yourself dancing in His presence!

It’s amazing when you realize you really are not the one in control. He is. His plan is perfect. His mercies our new every morning. His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3).
Jesus is risen from the dead, alive and active inside of us to this very day, with victory over death and power over sin!

Take His words to heart. Enjoy Jesus, not because you have to, but because He heals you. He gives grace to your mind. And He always meets you right where you’re at, not where you wish you’d be.

This is a (kinda groovy) hopeful song that helps me “stay steady” in the Lord instead of letting anxiety get to me!

Have a blessed week, and peace be with you! ❤

A Message to The Hurting

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I want to address you, my dearest friends
The ones who hurt in ways beyond what I could ever understand.
You have experienced so much,
Wounds deeper than canyons,
Rejection shattering your trust,
Dreams left to waste.
Dignity stripped away; identity swallowed by shame.
Questions left unanswered.
Hearts that repeatedly break.

I don’t understand it all
And I can’t pretend to,
But I ache with you more than you know.
And there is One who aches for you far more than I do.
Dear friend, you are not alone.

Deep in the night when you cry,
When you stay up with your heart laid bare,
Broken,
Bleeding,
I could never be there for you in that moment;
But there is One who is and always will be
Reaching out to You.
He pleads for you, He beckons you
To come into His open arms.

This isn’t even that great of a poem but I’m just concerned right now with speaking from the depths of my heart.
All I really want is for you to know without a doubt that
He cares.
He cares for you, Beloved.
He cares about you, your pain, and your brokenness beyond your wildest dreams.
He’s an ocean of grace
So don’t be afraid to jump into it.
Receive the embrace He longs to give you.
Receive.
Release.
Rejoice.

He longs to hold you tenderly and sing over you;                                    To heal you completely, to forgive you regardless of this or that, to love you intensely.

My heart goes out to you tonight, whoever you are;
Don’t be ashamed!
God wants you to know you are His Beloved.
Your identity isn’t in what you do, but in His love for you.
Your identity isn’t in what’s been done to you,
But in His love for you.

Never say “but…”
Because He doesn’t see this or that.
He doesn’t see things the way you do.
Because of what Jesus did for you on that cross
Now He covers you.

The Lord
Completely covers you from head to foot with
Purity
Righteousness
Love
Grace
—That’s the bigger picture!

As soon as you realize You need Him
He doesn’t say “Oh, I forgot about you.”
He says, “I got you.”

The bigger picture is that
He loves you anyway.
He loves you.
Anyway.
Regardless.
Even though.
Nevertheless.

God isn’t who you think He is!
He sees that You are hurting.
He knows and sees you.
You don’t have to hide or fake that you’re all right.
He knows you’re not.
But if you release your control
And let Him hold you in His arms,
He promises you that
Everything will be all right.

He’s with you,
Even when you feel too broken to lift your face.
He’s there
Through even the ugliest, messiest moments
Loving you like you’re a beautiful treasure
Worth dying for.

And if this poem that isn’t much of a poem means anything at all to you,
Then when you’re finished with it
Talk to God about it.
About you.
About what’s really going on.

Lay your broken pieces honestly before Him,
And receive His love that
knows you fully
and cares for you
regardless of this or that.
He sees the bigger picture–
He sees you.

My dearest friends, He wants to heal you.
He is no stranger to pain.
He understands you far more than you understand yourself.
Lay it all before Him, and I promise–He will never fail you.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

P.S while this poem is addressed to those who hurt in especially deep ways, we all hurt at some level or another. the world is full of hurting no matter where you turn, and we are all desperately in need of healing–whether from sin, shame, guilt, fear, despair, anxiety, depression, or loss of trust. we all need to hear the simple words “I love you” and we all need Jesus to fill in where we are weak. let your pain, your needs, and your hunger be satisfied at the foot of the cross. have a blessed day, friends! ❤

A few thoughts on Evangelism, Control, and Humility

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I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for awhile, as I get settled into the new semester. I also just need to take a break from sharing what I’m learning so I can sit back and allow God to just teach me things. Because–surprise, surprise–I still haven’t figured this life out yet! There is always so much more to learn. We’ll still have a lot of questions on our death bed, but thank God there is an eternity full of answers!

Before I take my leave from the blogging world, I want to share a few videos that capture some concepts I’ve been learning better than I can explain with a lot of words.

  1. Evangelism made easy! This video sounds too good to be true, but when I watched it, I was really touched by his words, which seem very well backed up with the Bible. We’re not supposed to be sleazy salesmen of the gospel. We’re called to represent Christ’s unconditional love to people, with no ulterior motives, and out of those pure intentions come the words of life and hope that people desperately need to hear.

2. Control. This song really brought into light some things I’ve been wrestling with. I want so badly to be in control of situations, and it’s so hard to trust that Jesus is my good Shepherd guiding me on the right paths. Do I really believe that God is Sovereign? Do I believe that He orchestrates the details of circumstances for my ultimate good? Really, all we have to do is take little steps of faith, be open-hearted towards people, and let God work the rest out. He is our strength and our shield. Even if the earth crumbles beneath our feet, we are still secure in Him.

3. Humility. As C.S. Lewis explained, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Which means thinking of others more! And a person who is always thinking of others is not passive. A humble person is actually a very active person! Definitely some food for thought.

I hope one or more of these videos is an encouragement to you! Goodbye for now, and may you fix your eyes continually on our wonderful Redeemer, Jesus! ❤

 

Mentorship, Rest, and 5 Favorite Quotes from a Beloved Classic

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I don’t know what to write today… So I’ll just start writing and see what happens!

I am learning how important mentorship and discipleship is. I think it’s the most encouraging and most important part of the Christian walk, and yet so many churches neglect it. I don’t have much more to say about that, but nevertheless it deserves some attention. Maybe someday I will be able to write a whole article about it, or even a whole book, but not today.

Today I’ll just encourage you to, if you haven’t already, join a small group! Find a mentor for yourself. Find someone to mentor. Go somewhere where you can grow close to Jesus in the community of other believers. One-on-one mentorship has been the most influential in my life. And it’s remarkable how willing people actually are to be mentored.

God works through the small, seemingly weak things like two people meeting for coffee far more than through bigger endeavors like megachurches that don’t offer people much besides a sermon. It saddens me that the church so often fails to meet the needs of these people who are so eager to grow in their walk with God.

Lately I’ve been grasping a powerful little word called rest. The start of a new semester doesn’t mean the end of rest. With God, you can rest anytime and anywhere, even while doing hard, laborious tasks, because it’s not you doing anything, it’s Christ living in you. The more we strive, the more we diminish Christ’s light shining through us. By resting in Him, we show the world that He is a solid rock to stand upon.

Another thing. I was reading Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard over break, and let me just say that I highly recommend it! Following Jesus is an epic adventure, and God is constantly leading us through trials that don’t make sense but are the only way to discover Joy and Peace.

My five favorite quotes from Hinds’ Feet are (because there are too many good quotes and so many of them are worth sharing):

1. Human Love is How we Learn to Love God

“This instinct for love, so firmly implanted in the human heart, is the supreme way by which we learn to desire and love God himself above all else.”

2. God’s Love is How we learn to Love People

“…it is only up on the High Places of Love that anyone can receive the power to pour themselves down in an utter abandonment of self-will.”

3. God’s Will is Always Safe

“Remember also that it is always safe to obey my voice, even if it seems to call you to paths which look impossible or even crazy.”

4. A Wonderful Meaning to Sorrow

“She had the feeling that somehow, in the very far-off ages, there would be a meaning found to all sorrow and an answer too fair and wonderful to be as yet understood.”

5. One Passionate Desire

“However, it had opened her eyes to the fact that right down in the depths of her own heart she really had but one passionate desire, not for the things which the Shepherd had promised, but for himself. All she wanted was to be allowed to follow him forever.”

So those are some main things that have been on my heart lately. I hope this is a blessing to you! May you walk in love today, always captivated by Jesus.

How God Grew Me in 2018

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I want to lift my praise higher than I can reach
That you would save one soul is more than enough for me

I cry out to Him, adoring the blanket of stars in the sky.

This is it. I’m here. You’re here. For years I didn’t understand You. For years I struggled in prayer, wrestling and clawing for what was real. But You were there all along, just knowing. You knew everything.

And in truth, I always knew You were real. The thing I couldn’t grasp was how You were beautiful. How you could mean something to my life. How you could woo me and awe me into an adventure following You. I just didn’t get it. I knew I needed to follow You, but I didn’t love You enough to be able to do so for the rest of my life.

People often assume that if God is beautiful than you will know without a doubt the moment you pray your first prayer to Him. But, while that may be the case for some people, others like myself take longer to realize this. It takes faith, even as small as a mustard seed, to grow and push through the ground and soak up the rain and break through the earth and withstand the storm and survive the drought and branch into stems and produce fruit.

It takes work. It takes a complete heart transplant, a total transformation of your vision, to finally see that God really, truly, deeply cares.

More often than not, it doesn’t take just one prayer to make our spirit sing with unfathomable joy. It takes many. It doesn’t take one Bible verse, it takes a yearning for truth and a searching for the Word of God every day, with earnest pondering. It doesn’t take one act of service, it takes many to finally grasp that we can’t do this on our own. We need the knowledge that our Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness, and nothing we do can add or subtract to that. We need the overwhelming grace of God to flood our souls so we can pour out into other people’s lives in the same way.

In 2018, I’ve realized more of my need for God’s grace, as it has filled my heart and transformed my life in ways I’d never imagined.

This year has been an adventure. I graduated from high school and started going to college. God blessed me with friends I never knew I needed. He grew me in confidence as a person and as a Christian. He pinned down some of my weaknesses and met them with His strength. He guided me gently to surrender things I never knew I needed to surrender. He gave me the wisdom and delight to focus on Him as I watched Him fix problems I didn’t even know existed.

Yes, it was all by God’s grace. And I don’t add that in as a casual obligation. His grace was, and is, everything to me. It’s becoming more and more to me as I realize that I myself really don’t have it all together. I need Him. Maybe people think I am pretty good on the outside, but the only times anything good comes out of my life is when I defeat my own impulses and let Christ’s love take control. Only through Him can I produce anything of eternal value.

But I have not always understood these things. As a young teen, I could not in all honesty say that I even loved Jesus. I wanted to say it, but if I did it wouldn’t have been true. I desired the things of the world rather than the things of God far more than I do now. Most of my life was centered on myself.

Now, as I fully rest in the assurance of Christ, I can honestly say that I love Jesus. His love fills my heart with wonder. The seriousness of my high school years built in me the strength to hold tightly to truth, and now my surrender to God’s love for me plunges me into a life of childlike faith adoring and serving my King.

But 2018 was not a year of all sunshine of rainbows. Some days were tougher than others. Some days the enemy seemed to be attacking me on every side–the hopelessness of a looming and impossible deadline, the uncertainty of my future gnawing at me, or the burden of perfectionism weighing on my shoulders.

But the beauty of following Christ isn’t just the glorious sunset or the magnificent rainbows. The beauty of following Christ is that even in the most treacherous storm, with rain pounding and lightning striking and the ground beneath you shaking—even then, you can see the sunshine behind the dark clouds.

Even at my lowest points, I still have a Hope to hold onto. Even when I’m a sleep-deprived college student with no clue how I will finish an assignment that’s due tomorrow, not all is lost. Even when the people around me close themselves off from God’s love, I can trust that He is good, and He can do more for them than anything I can imagine.

When I was younger, I didn’t know God like I do now. God has been so gracious to me, especially this year. Still, I know God is not in the least finished with me yet. I have so much more to learn. It is overwhelming to think about how much more God needs to work in my heart. But I know He is faithful to complete the good work He has started in me—and in all of us.

Please, don’t stop searching for Him. Even the person most closest to Jesus on this earth right now needs the prayers of other believers, so never hesitate to ask for prayer! God is always there for you, and if your heart is open to it, He will show you the beauty of who He is. He takes pleasure in us when we simply put our hope in His love.

“…the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:11

In this coming year of 2019, I resolve to make Christ my center. I resolve to grow in my understanding of God’s grace that we are so undeserving of and to draw deeper into an everyday fellowship with my Savior, as He directs my paths.

Whatever your heart is full of, your life is full of. And Christ’s love dwells in all who trust in Him (Rm. 5:5). So, this year, may your life be filled with the sweet presence of Him.